The Heart.

KNOW that the most noble part of a human being is the heart.  It is what knows Allah, works for Allah, strives toward Allah and comprehends Allah’s message. The rest of his being is in servitude, following and obedience to the heart which uses them they way someone uses tools or workers.

Whoever knows his own heart after understanding what Allah has taught and instructed knows Allah. Too many people are ignorant of their own hearts and their own selves. Allah (as He said) can come between a man and his own heart. When this happens, he is blocked from knowing it or caring for its state. Knowledge of the heart and its nature and attributes is fundamental to this deen and essential to those who wish to stay on the straight path.

Shaitaan’s Ways Into the Heart

KNOW that the heart by its very nature upon which it was created is open to guidance but, because of the desires and personal inclinations with which it is filled, often inclined away from it. The struggle between these opposing forces (the sound fitra which inclines toward guidance and the inclinations and desires which incline away from it) continues until the heart opens up to and chooses one of them when then settles in and takes possession of it. Then, the other one only gets in by stealth like a thief.  As Allah said:

{From the evil of the whisperer who quickly retreats.} An-Naas:4

The “whisperer” (shaitaan) is the one who quickly flees when Allah is remembered but when there is forgetfulness (ghafla), he relaxes and enjoys himself. Nothing expels shaitaan from the heart but remembrance and mention of Allah Most High. He can find no avenue there nor any place for him with the presence of remembrance of Allah.

KNOW that the heart is like a fortress. Shaitaan is the enemy who wishes to invade the fortress of your heart, take possession of it and control it. There is no way to protect a fortress unless you guard its DOORS. One who does not know the doors, has no hope of guarding the fortress. Likewise, you will not be able to repel shaitaanunless his places of entry. His means of entry into your heart – his “doors” – are attributes of the person himself. They are many. We will discuss they major ones which are the large gates through which legions of shaitaan’s forces can pass with ease.

Among these gaping holes in our “security” is ENVY and AVARICE. When the slave is obsessed with possessing something, this can blind and deafen him and block out the light of inner vision by which one knows the tricks of shaitaan. Likewise if one is envious of what is in the hands of others, he offers shaitaan an easy opening.Shaitaan makes fair-seeming and and all means which will bring the avaricious one what he desires, even if those means are wrong and sinful.

Anger and rage are another entryway for shaitaan. Anger negates intellect and sense. When these are weakened, shaitaan wastes no time in attacking and playing with his victim. It has been narrated that Iblis said: “When the slave is furious, we flip him over and over like a child does with a ball.”

Excessive love for beautification of one’s house, their clothes or their furnishings is another opening to shaitaan. One who becomes to obsessed with such things can waste an entire lifetime in their pursuit and become like the disbeliever who put the bumper sticker on their car which said “Whoever dies with the most toys – wins.”

Haste (al-‘ajala) and lack of deliberateness (at-tathabbut) and caution are among the weaknesses which open the heart to it’s enemy. It is narrated that the Prophet (sas) said: “Deliberateness is from Allah and haste is from shaitaan.” This hadith is narrated by At-Tirmidhi, but one of its narrators is weak.  Deliberateness and not being hasty is also supported by Allah’s Statement:

{O you who believe, when a questionable person comes to you with some news, verify it carefully lest you inflict harm on any people in ignorance and end up regretting what you have done. (6) And know that Allah’s Messenger is among you. If he were to obey you in many things, you would suffer. But Allah has caused you to love faith and made it something beautiful in your hearts and made you to hate disbelief, immorality and disobedience. These are the rightly-guided ones. (7)} Al-Hujaraat.

Satiation with food (over-eating) makes desires stronger and distracts from obedience and remembrance.

Placing hopes and desires in people or one person brings about praising him with that which is not there, compromising and failing to command him what is right and  to prohibit him what is wrong.

Excessive love of wealth opens a door to shaitaan. When a heart is obsessed with this it is corrupted. Shaitaan then drives one to seek wealth where it should not be sought, to miserliness, to fear of poverty and to denying the rights of others.

Among these openings: calling the common Muslims to partisanship to a particular “school” or imam – without even fulfilling its teachings.

Calling common Muslims to thinking about Allah’s essence, His attributes and issues which are beyond the grasp of their minds until they end up doubting the fundamentals of Islamic teachings.

Thinking the worst of other Muslims opens a door to shaitaan. Whoever judges another Muslim with his “bad construction” in this way will hold him in low regard (yahtiqiruhu).  The Prophet (sas) said: “Sufficient for one person evildoing to hold his fellow Muslim in low regard.” He will oppress him with his speech and see himself as better than him. Thinking the worst of another Muslim only arises out of the uncleanness of the heart of the one who does it. A believer always persists in seeking excuses for another believer. It is the way of the munaafiq to seek the flaws nd the mistakes of others. Also, you should always be careful to avoid suspicious circumstances so that others are not drawn into thinking ill of you.

These are some of the attributes which constitute “doors” for shaitaan to let himself into the heart of a Muslim and make himself a home. Seeking a cure and a preventative for these attributes and cleansing the heart of them is the only way to close these doors. If these blameworthy traits have been expunged from the heart and ripped out by their roots, then the only thing left to shaitaan is suggestions and attempts at quick invasions – but no occupation. These are stopped by remembrance of Allah and fortifying the heart with taqwa.

Think of it as a man confronting a hungry dog. If he has no piece of meat in his hand or other food, the dog can be driven off with a mere word. If, on the other hand, he is holding a piece of meat, no amount of yelling will make the hungry dog go away. Likewise, if the heart has been cleansed of that which shaitaan desires and that which allows him “permanent residence” (the aforementioned character flaws), he can be driven off with just the remembrance of Allah and His mention.

If a heart is dominated by desires and the aforementioned flaws, remembrance of Allah is only superficial. It is not able to get to the core of the heart where shaitaan is firmly entrenched. Thus, the purging of these attributes is a necessary prerequisite and without it dhikr of Allah is mere form without substance.

To understand this, think about how shaitaan is able to put suggestions in your heart even while you are engaged in the best of all dhikr – the prayer. Al-hamdu lillahi, Allah forgives and overlooks these suggestions and even the inclination toward committing one of them as long as one does not carry it out. Whoever stays away from it out of fear of Allah will get a good deed recorded for him. As for one who stays away from it for some other reason or for fear of disease or other reasons, we HOPE for his forgiveness. Unless he was determined to do it (and was merely prevented), for determination to commit a sin is itself a sin. This is shown in the statement of the Prophet (sas):

“When to Muslims meet with drawn swords, both the killer and the killed are in the fire.” It was said, “Why the killed?” He (sas) said, “He too was determined to kill the other.”

How could it be said that there is not accountability for mere determination (to sin) when actions are by their intentions? Are pride (kibr), ostentation (riyaa’) and conceipt (al-‘ujb) anything other than internal affairs of the heart?

Keeping the Heart Firm on Good

It is narrated that the Prophet (sas) said in du’a:

“O changer of hearts, keep our hearts firm upon your deen. O director of hearts, direct our hearts to your obedience.”

And in another hadith (sahih), the Prophet (sas) said:

“The similitude of the heart is like a feather in a desert blown about by the wind.”

KNOW that with regard to staying firm on good or on evil or vacillating between the two, hearts are three types:

  1. A heart which has been filled with taqwa, purified through exercise and cleansed of blameworthy character flaws. The inclination to good reigns supreme and free and the heart is in full acceptance of Allah’s guidance.

  2. A defeated heart filled with desires, infiltrated by evil and contaminated with character flaws. Shaitaan reigns therein because of all the space provided for him. The inclination to iman is weak and overcome. The heart is filled with the smoke of desires and the light is blocked out. Once it goes dark, reminders and reprimands have no effect.

  3. A heart which is first attracted to the call of desires, calling it to evil but then the inclination to faith puts up a fight, calling it to good. The heart is torn between the two and must decide.

For example, shaitaan launches an attack through the mind in order to strengthen the call to desires and says: Don’t you see so-and-so and so-and-so how they have abandoned themselves to their desires? Especially when he mentions some among the scholars, then his heart is inclined to shaitaan and his call. Then the call to faith fights back saying: Have any been destroyed but those who forgot the hereafter? Do not be led astray by the forgetfulness of others! Do you not see if they were standing in the hot summer sun while you had a cool house, would you follow them in their action or would you seek what is good for you? So, you would go a different way from them because of the heat of the sun but not because of that which leads to the head of hell-fire? This struggle continues until whichever direction is appropriate to that heart dominates. Whoever was created for good will find it the easy way and whoever was created for evil will find it the easy way.  Allah said:

{So whoever Allah wishes to guide, he opens his breast to Islam and whoever He wishes to lead astray he makes his breast restricted and difficult as one who shoots up into the atmosphere.} Al-An’am:125

O Allah, grant us to successfuly arrive at that which You love and You accept.

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